Lilly Pulitzer's Barefoot Chic

When a brand becomes a classic and the woman behind it a style icon, it's easy to forget that it all began with a bold idea hatched by a gal who was a bit of a rebel.  Not content to stay home and live the life of a wealthy pampered housewife, newly married 21-year-old Lilly Pulitzer opened a juice stand.  Then, to cover up the citrus splashes she had some simple shifts fashioned out of bright patterned fabric. 

lilly pulitzer original story

Soon customer demand for the dresses far outran any interest in the juice and Lilly opened a shop in Palm Beach, Florida.  When LIFE photographed Jackie Kennedy in a Lilly shift the comfortable, uncomplicated look -- so different from the nipped and girdled standard of the times -- took off.

Decades later women still turn to Lilly Pulitzer when they need a dose of carefree barefoot chic.  Credit the fabrics, which just make you smile.  Credit the cuts, which reflect a modern sensibility.  Mostly credit the brand's originality, from the inspiration of Lilly herself (dubbed "The Barefoot Tycoon" by TIME Magazine, she often did wear her creations barefoot, not to mention slightly unzipped and sans undergarments) to the current designers who conjure up and hand draw every print, carrying on the Lilly legacy with their own joie de vivre.

Honoring tradition while staying fresh is a tricky balance to achieve.  Recently I got to see how it's done firsthand when I stepped inside The Pink Palace (aka Lilly Pulitzer headquarters).  While there I picked up a lovely Lilly treat for one of you to win.  Stop back next week for the tour, the giveaway and a peek at how a Pulitzer print comes to life.

E is for ENTREPRENEUR ... Z is for ZEST: Know a business woman who achieved success her own unique way?  Share here.  ((Part 5 of our series "Let's Hear It For The Girls ... celebrating women from A to Z." )

NEXT WEEK:  Join me on a tour ofThe Pink Palace plus enter to win a fabulous Lilly Pulitzer giveaway.

PHOTOS via  Lilly Pulitzer.  Lilly and her unique delivery system / the first store /  Bling My Chimes print from the current offering (look for the "Lilly," it's in every one).

"Use the good china for breakfast."